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Since the first reel started rolling, Paris has been a Hollywood hotbed, with the “City of Lights” hosting some 900 film shoots a year. And why not? With its dreamy gardens and stunning architecture that evokes romance, not many cities can look as beautiful as Paris on the big screen.
But truly, the film sites are even more enthralling in person. I’ve picked out five of my favourite filming locations in Paris that you can actually visit. Before you go, rent these films to get in the mood, and then start planning your route along the “Parisian Film Trail.”
Café des Deux Moulins
Film: Amélie (2001)
Tourists began flocking to this art deco café after Amélie hit in the theatres. In the movie, it’s here that Amélie (Audrey Tautou) waitresses for an assortment of eccentrics, while playing matchmaker for the neurotic tobacconist with a cantankerous patron. But Café des Deux Moulins is a real café in Montmartre that’s popular among tourists and locals alike. Fans can venture inside to see the Amélie poster mounted on the wall and taste the crème brûlée named after the film’s heroine.
15 rue Lepic, 18th. Métro: Blanche
Pont Alexandre III
Film: Midnight in Paris (2011)
Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris follows the kooky adventures of Gil Pender (Owen Wilson), a nostalgic screenwriter who travels back in time to 1920s Paris. While there’s a Parisian feast for the eyes in this movie, one classic site that’s featured is the Pont Alexandre III – an arched bridge elaborately decorated with sculptures and art nouveau lamps. In the final scene, Gil and his emerging love interest, Gabrielle, stroll along this magnificent landmark, both agreeing that that “Paris is at its most beautiful in the rain.” Visit the bridge in the evening for a gobsmackingly good view of the Eiffel Tower shimmering in the darkness.
Quai d’Orsay. Metro: Invalides
Bistrot La Renaissance
Film: Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Although set in France, the bulk of Inglourious Basterds was filmed in Germany. Luckily, the sole location that Quentin Tarantino shot in Paris is alive and well. It’s here at La Renaissance that the Jewish heroine, Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), learns that her irritating suitor, Fredrick Zoller, is a Nazi war hero. If you visit La Renaissance, pull up a chair and ask for a menu – rumour has it that this bistro has a decent wine list.
La Renaissance, 112, rue Championnet, Montmarte, Paris. Metro: Jules Joffrin
Shakespeare & Company
Films: Before Sunset (2004) & Midnight in Paris (2011)
With cameos in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset, Shakespeare and Company is probably the most iconic bookstore in Paris. In the opening scene of Before Sunset, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) gives a reading in this bookstore, while secretly longing to be reunited with his lost love, Celine (Julie Delpy).The shop holds more than just cinematic significance too. Since opening in 1951, it’s been a literary institution on the Left Bank: hosting readings, events, and festivals for booklovers, as well as offering free housing to aspiring writers and artists.
37 rue de la Bûcherie. Metro: St Michel
Pont de Bir-Hakeim
Film: Inception (2010)
You’re not dreaming: Pont de Bir-Hakeim is an actual landmark in the French capital that also appeared in the thriller, Inception. This double-decker bridge connects the 15th and 16th arrondissements with a metro line on top, and underneath, a motorway with a bicycle path. Inception fans can follow the lower level pathway, where Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) warns Ariadne (Ellen Page) about the danger of using real places to create designs in dreams. The bridge also offers fantastic views of the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty replica.
Quai Branly. Metro: Bir-Hakeim
IF YOU GO:
Air Transat offers direct flights to Paris from select Canadian airports.
The Paris Visitors and Convention Bureau sells a transport pass allowing unlimited travel on the bus, metro, tramway and RER networks in Paris and its suburbs.
We’d like to thank Air Transat for their contribution to this article. Visit their website for information on their flights to Paris.